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happiness, but she soars higher—through the clouds to the Giver--and exclaims:
“My soul does magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."
By divine inspiration, Elisabeth knew the mystery of the Incarnation.
A woman, a mother, is the first on earth to whom is revealed what even St. Joseph *) hitherto knew not—the conception of Him to whom her child was to be the precursor. A woman with the promises of motherhood is the first to be visited by the Saviour in the womb of Mary, because in the son of this woman He wants to bless the entire race, poor humanity, for so many centuries astray from its God. John is sanctified by Jesus; for, “when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost."
Thus Christ is our salvation, and by Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, we have received it.
*) “It was after the Visitation that Joseph resolved to send away Mary." (Ludolph, the Carthusian, in his large Life of Jesus Christ.)
And as John owes the privilege of being sanctified before his birth to the faith and piety of Elisabeth, so children, in general, owe their spiritual regeneration, the conservation and development of their supernatural life, to the faith of their mother and the care she takes to present them for baptisin and instruct them in piety. Blessed, therefore, those mothers who by the most intimate visits of Jesus in Holy Communion, and by a life of piety and recollection at home, obtain the Saviour's blessing for their children during their mysterious sleep. Blessed are they who are firmly convinced that in Him alone is to be found the salvation of mother and child, the virtuous and happy future of humanity. Blessed those mothers who, from the first moment, resolve to co-operate with the intimate designs of God regarding their offspring's infancy and youth.
Mothers, never forget that the highest reason for congratulating you is that you gave birth to brothers of Jesus and citizens of Heaven.
For three months Mary and Jesus were the guests of Elisabeth, for three months the ,infant Saviour kept on sanctifying his infant precursor.
Did the mothers know the fate awaiting their children: that the Son of the Eternal Father was to die by the cross that the other, the penitent of the desert, was to be beheaded? It is believed the Blessed Virgin knew it, not so Elisabeth. Only the Queen of Martyrs is strong enough to bear such a continuous martyrdom. It was good for Elisabeth not to know the future. One Herod massacred her husband, another beheaded St. John. She herself was to die far away from her son.
The visits of the Lord mark His saints for adversity.
When the family presses eagerly around the cradle of the new-born babe, and the face of the mother is radiant with joy, as that of Elisabeth at the birth of John, the question is repeated for the thousandth time: “What a one, think ye, shall this child be?" The fond father and many others will predict a future of glory, yet God, invisibly present, answers: “Destined to suffer."
Lord, the more Thou lovest, the more Thy love presages sorrow!''
Your children, mothers, are destined to suffer. Train them for it. Teach them how to suffer in faith, in love, in watchfulness and patience, and they will be happy in the very midst of misery!
ANNA, THE PROPHETESS.
WOMAN ANNOUNCES THE SAVIOUR.
POETIC tradition tells us of a family that, travelling to Jerusalem, made halt under a tere
binth whose branches bowed to greet, and spread to protect, its guests. *) "I have stretched out my branches as a turpentine-tree, and my branches are of honor and grace."'**) Unknown and of humble appearance, this family, before which nature showed its reverence and which the whole world shall call the Holy Family, was on its journey to the Temple, there to fulfil the law.
*) In later times the tree was honored even by Mohamedans. **) Eccli. XXIV. 22.